Antonio Marini Madonna of the Kiss


Museo del Palazzo Pretorio di Prato


post 1843


1000 x 730 mm



historical period


Exhibit Artwork

Artwork Details

The painting depicts the tender embrace between the Virgin, dressed in red and covered by a blue cloak as in tradition, and infant Jesus, who leans towards his mother to give her a kiss. Mary is kneeling on the grass and she has turned her gaze, full of love, towards her son, who wraps around her his small arms. In distance in the background you can see clear, quiet, green natural landscape with lilies – alluding to Mary’s purity – a narrow tree, perhaps a lake and a hill with some buildings. The landscape recalls the Umbrian-Tuscan painters of the 15th century, especially Pietro Perugino, while the figures are clearly inspired by Raphael’s early works and his sweet Madonnas. The scene is intimate and clear, illuminated by a bright light, while the composition is simple with the two figures in the foreground and at the center of the scene. Even the arched form of the painting and its splendid golden frame, carved and decorated with two cherubs and other motifs, refer to the 15th and the early 16th century painting and craftmanship, admired by enthusiasts and collectors in the middle of the century. Madonna of the Kiss is a subject that had great success around the mid-19th century, and Marini replicated the work in different versions, some of which are now found in museums and private collections in different countries. The work reflects the purist style of the painter in those years. After a beginning as a neoclassical artist and artworks of historical and religious subjects, in 1843 Marini, who had already been a well-established artist for some time, painted the first version of this subject with simple shapes and clear, pure colors, stepping away from canons and classical references, typical of the artistic current that characterized the decades of the mid-century. In addition, this version, made for the Marquis of Colbert, did not only imitate the forms and landscapes of the Renaissance but also the type of canvas, which presented a typical form of religious painting of that time. Marini approached Purism thanks to his friend Adolf von Stürler, who he had met in Rome where the German painter had joined the Nazarene painters. In this period Marini painted works, that were intended to recover the art of the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance through pure and clear forms, not contaminated by any mannerist artifices, and the painter also worked as a restorer of ancient works especially in Florence and Prato. In 1867 Giulia Marini, painter and Marini’s widow, donated the painting to the museum of Prato, Antonio’s hometown. The painting was placed in Palazzo Pretorio and today it is on display together with Giulia’s portrait, painted by Adolf von Stürler.

Artist Details

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Antonio Marini was born in Prato and he had a strong bond with his hometown throughout his life. He trained first in Prato, then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, under neoclassical painter Pietro Benvenuti, who greatly influenced his early career.

Marini’s first works are closely linked to the neoclassical figurative culture, which was favored in Florence but also throughout Europe between the end of the 18th century and the first decades of the 19th century. Marini was a neoclassical painter not only for the style of his works, but also for the themes he chose to represent with mythological, historical and classic subjects.

The artist decorated important Florentine palaces, such as the palace of Martelli, where he frescoed two of the three ceilings of the gallery with episodes related to the history of the family. In the early 1820s’ he stayed in Vienna, where he worked as a painter and decorator for the prince of Esterhàzy, while in 1830 he worked on Teatro Metastasio in Prato.

He met German painter Adolf von Stürler, exponent of the Nazarene artists in Rome, who were supporters of pure pre-Renaissance art, which became a turning point in Marini’s life. In fact, he engaged in Purism and started to idealize the art of past centuries, and the movement started to spread in Italy and Europe around the middle of the century. This should be considered in the interpretation of the restorations he made at the chapel of Madonna della Cintola in Prato on the frescoes by Filippo Lippi and those made by Giotto in the Peruzzi Chapel in the church of Santa Croce in Florence between 1840 and 1850, which were later removed in subsequent restorations. In Florence Marini also restored the frescoes of Agnolo Gaddi and the alleged portrait of Dante Alighieri painted by Giotto in the 14th century at Bargello.

Marini died in Prato at old age and he was buried in the church of San Domenico.

Collection Details

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Prato’s Museo Civico is situated in the Palazzo Pretorio, in Piazza del Comune at the city center.

The first documents of the Palazzo date back to the end of the 13th century, when captain of the Guelfs, Francesco de’ Frescobaldi decided to purchase the building already owned by Pipini, to house the foreign magistrates, the court and the prisons. Between 1334 and 1338 the building was enlarged by Florentine craftsmen and the medieval appearance was changed. During the following centuries and especially in the 18th century a series of improvements were implemented finally until the late 19th century, when the building came under the demolition threat.

In 1912 an important restoration work led to the opening of the Galleria Comunale, which was previously housed in the Palazzo del Comune. The last restoration started in 1998 and it was finished in 2013. In September of the same year the museum reopened with the exhibition “From Donatello to Lippi. Officina pratese”.

The historical origins of the museum are linked to the decision of the grand duke of Tuscany, Leopold II, who wanted to create a collection of paintings for the students of the city’s drawing school (1788).

The collection was enriched thanks to various donations and purchases, until the official inauguration of the first exhibition organized by Giovanni Papini in 1912.

In 1926, thanks to Angiolo Badiani’s initiative, the State museum received their first assemblage of plaster casts by local sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini and in 1954 the museum was reopened with new layout, designed by Giuseppe Marchini.

In the late 1980s’ the gallery was closed for restoration work. During these years of improvements, the museum purchased the Crucifixion by Filippino Lippi and the altarpieces by Santi di Tito and Alessandro Allori were donated to the museum by Angela Riblet.

The museum holds many artworks, ranging from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Among these there are the polyptych with the Stories of the Cintola by Bernardo Daddi, polyptychs by Giovanni da Milano and Lorenzo Monaco, Filippo Lippi’s Madonna del Ceppo and the Adoration of the Child and Vincenzo Ferrer, Filippino Lippi’s Annunciation with St. Julian, Mattia Preti’s Repudiation of Agar and the Cabins by Ardengo Soffici.

The collection includes also an important assemblage of sculptures of the most important artists of the time, among them Andrea della Robbia and Benedetto Buglioni.